Epistle to Myself on my 70th Birthday

By: Robert Cording

How’s business?

Slow as a white man in slippers.

The Wire

Listen, nobody wants another overworked sky
of Beethovian sun and cloud,

or starlings loop-the-looping as they gather.

You’re standard issue, friend. Where’s the market unrest,
the ups and downs of soybean and pork belly,

the tango of selfie and brazen litany of self-invention?

Where’s your Twitter handle and your presence
on Facebook? OMG, you’re an old white man in slippers,

still daydreaming about Truth and Beauty,
still earnest even, taken up once again

by a titmouse just outside your study window,
(who still calls it a study?)

lifting one translucent wing in the afternoon light,
its beak cleaning and rearranging a downy under-layer

of feathers. You’re incorrigible, a puppy splashing
in dirty puddles, unaware of your puppy-ness,

happy as your silly puppy-feet plunge.
Pal, the Four Horsemen are riding in, the planet’s

burning up, and there’s enough lies going around
to fill Baltimore’s dumpsters. And what are you

proposing to do?—give a good Wordsworthian Hark 
at some celandine or lark to lighten your mood?

Go on, schlep down to your rural mailbox—
you’re a fountain pen and letter guy, aren’t you,

and maybe someone’s written you, or at least
sent a birthday card rather than an email.

And, if not, there’s always this poem—
place it in its little stall, pull up the red flag,

and shuffle back tomorrow in your slippers
to open the door on yourself.


Robert Cording has published nine collections of poems, the most recent of which are Only So Far and Without My Asking. A new book, Finding the World’s Fullness: on Poetry, Metaphor, and Mystery, was recently published by Slant. His poems have appeared in publications such as the Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry, Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Orion, and Best American Poetry.

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